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INSIGHTS

 Time is everything (almost). Money is crucial, but it is so tied to time, that it takes second place. Only rarely will you spend more money without spending more time.

Data Conversions

Data conversion is the hub around which the rest of the ERP implementation turns. Don't get me wrong. Data conversion should not drive the project. I use the analogy because data conversion is affected by most every part of the project. I also use the analogy because the effort to convert data gets under estimated.   Read more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

System Check

You may have been living with it, putting it on your B list, expediting as the norm.  How would you answer the following questions?      Read more

Software Implementation

Pain, and the remedy to relieve it    Read More

What does IT have to do with my customers being satisfied?

Related to long standing JIT gospel ‘ if you have a business activity that  does not contribute to getting or keeping a customer it’s either unneeded or considered suspect’   One of the questions that should be asked when looking at an activity to decide if it’s wasteful or not. “ Does the customer care?”         Read more       



 

 

 


Data Conversions

Data conversion is the hub around which the rest of the ERP implementation turns. Don't get me wrong. Data conversion should not drive the project. I use the analogy because data conversion is affected by most every part of the project. I also use the analogy because the effort to convert data gets under estimated. The needs of the business should drive the ERP implementation. The needs are addressed by business processes, many of which are changed during an ERP implementation. But data conversion is the hub. Each phase has a relationship to it.

During initial planning, the budget is created taking into consideration the extent of the data conversion. During education, questions on the usage of a screen item will occasionally relate to data conversion. Significant data conversion design will be done as business processes are designed. The desire for a significant item number may first be discovered in the business process phase. The data conversion is traditionally placed in the construction phase. Discoveries during construction of the data conversion must be communicated to the entire team. You may find a conflict between Customer and Vendor number. This may mean changes in the business processes. During the conference room pilot further discoveries are made. You may discover that you cannot search for customer ship to's the way you expected. Again adjustments are likely in both business processes and in the data conversion. Even in training a discovery could be made which requires a change in the data conversion steps. Those being trained have a day-to-day familiarity with the business processes. Their insight may bring up a consideration not identified by the power user. Of course the actually cutover is the usage of the data conversion plan and routines. The effort to balance on hand inventories and customer balances may not be trivial.

Plan on adjustments to data conversion throughout the project. Allow the time and budget for those adjustments. Every time you think about a significant change to the project, consider how it will affect data conversion. Try to make it a habit. Ask yourself over and over "How will this affect data conversion." The benefits are: less one time fixes after cutover, and data which is more useful for the enterprise

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System Check

You may have been living with it, putting it on your B list, expediting as the norm.  How would you answer the following questions?

  1. Forecasts are never right: system doesn’t allow enough history for forecasting, system doesn’t generate a forecast, forecasting methods are inadequate, forecasts doesn’t forecast my family, system doesn’t forecast for key customers, too many manual forecasts are entered system doesn’t combine forecasts by family, system doesn’t divide forecasts into SKUs system doesn’t forecast by dollars, system doesn’t forecast by units, system doesn’t forecast seasonal items
  2. Sales makes promises I can’t keep: customer asks for shipment sooner than our published lead times, our key customers orders get filled while our normal customers keep going on back order, export orders keep losing their stock to rush jobs
  3. The numbers on the reports don’t agree: people using excel spread sheets with stand alone data, custom reports have calculations ignoring company standards, people don’t insure the accuracy of all important data
  4. Inventories are never accurate
  5. We’re paying too much in overnight freight costs to ship to our customers
  6. We have too many raw materials we don’t need and not enough raw materials we do need
  7. We have too much work in process
  8. We have too much rework
  9. Our vendors don’t ship us quality raw materials on time
  10. The (insert dept name here) makes too many mistake

1 – 2 or less your system is in great shape

3 – 4 Your system is ok and needs a moderate boost

5 or above your system is at risk and you should consider upgrading your system

These are symptoms that can arise from multiple problems some of them you can fix without changing systems but if you have a lot of them that’s a good indicator that the system is deficient as well.

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Software Implementation

Pain, and the remedy to relieve it

  1. The team members are not doing the work required. 

Relief: Request smaller amounts of work at a time.  A team member may feel overwhelmed at the task of testing Sales Order Entry.  Spell out the first step, and ask them to do just that.  “Could you gather examples of the different types of Sales Orders you process?”  It’s a smaller task, easier to understand, harder to refuse.

  1. We have too much to do before our cutover

Relief:  Prioritized the tasks to be done.  For the tasks which are number five or greater, negotiate.   “Could you live without this at 8am on the first day of cutover?  Could you live without it till the second day?   The second week?  The second month?”  If you present a reasonable plan for doing the delayed tasks, most team members will accept the wait.

  1. “The new system is not making things any better!”

Relief: Adjust your plan to phase in improvements.  Implementation timelines of less than a year generally duplicate the current system with limited improvements.  No piece of software can instantaneously change a company’s culture. You may have been painted a rosy picture.  Don’t abandon your hope of improvement, but swallow this bitter pill, and phase improvements in over time.

  1. We are over budget

Relief: Reduce your scope, press for a win. Instead of bringing up everything, bring up say Accounts Payable and General Ledger as quickly as possible. Once you have a win under your belt, the team and management are more likely to keep moving forward, and adjust your budget accordingly

  1. The team is going one thousand different directions at once

Relief: Adopt a document with which you can drive the project to completion.  They have many names; let’s use Business Procedure.  Write a proposed business procedure. Test it by following it step by step, on the new computer system.  Test converted data by running the procedure.  Use them to test modifications and reports.  Sequence the procedures and use them in a conference room pilot.  Use them as the agenda for training.  Having one document greatly focuses your teams’ activities.

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What does IT have to do with my customers being satisfied?

Related to long standing JIT gospel ‘ if you have a business activity that does not contribute to getting or keeping a customer it’s either unneeded or considered suspect’   One of the questions that should be asked when looking at an activity to decide if it’s wasteful or not. “ Does the customer care?”

Does the customer care if your drive goes down and customer service has to hand write orders for 4 hours while the hard drive is installed? No, it’s a disruption for customer service but not for the customer, the customer is not serviced by mirror systems (which allow customer service to continue functioning without interruption even though a hard drive has gone down). While it guarantees that the productivity level stays high during the chance that a hard drive actually goes down and that’s 1/10000 chance or about once or twice in 10 years. The customer never notices and you’ve spent money and time on IT infrastructure that doesn’t service the customer any better.

On the other hand you have customers that are used to running out of stock and calling in their order. If money, which would have been spent on mirrored systems, is spent on a CRM function that prompts the customer service to contact the customer rather than waiting until the customer is out of stock and desperate. This is a feature, which directly affects the customer and that’s something they do care about. Their time, their money!

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